Saira Khan has come a long way from her first appearance on our TV screens 15 years ago in The Apprentice to becoming a panelist on the ITV lunchtime chat show, Loose Women.
Part of the huge success of that show comes from its ability to break down taboos by talking about topics such as sex, relationships and the menopause – which doesn’t always go down well with Saira’s family.
‘You have to realise not everybody is as open or comfortable and my family are embarrassed,’ she admits.
While mum-of-two Saira might have previously let this bother her, now she’s approaching 50 she cares less about what other people think.
Saira spoke to our sister publication Woman’s Own about the other ways in which her life is changing as she prepares to enter her next chapter…
Hi, Saira! What do your family think of how openly you talk about things on Loose Women?
It’s my mum more than anything. My family is embarrassed, but I’m nearly 50 now and I can’t take responsibility for other people’s feelings. They don’t realise that the reason you talk about it is because it’s very important to break these taboo subjects down. They don’t have that same passion as I do, so they think, ‘You’re just doing it on purpose to embarrass the family.’ And I’m not, honestly! I’ve just got to try to do what the right thing is for me.
Which of the Loose Women do you hang out with the most outside of work?
Probably Ruth [Langsford] and Coleen [Nolan]. I see them quite a lot. But this year I’m going on a juicing retreat with Nadia [Sawalha] and Kaye [Adams] and I’ve got all the girls coming round to my 50th. I’ve hired a lovely cottage in Norfolk, so I’ll put a big party on.*
How do you feel about being compared to the other women?
We’ve all come from different backgrounds and experiences, and we’re all individuals. I always think, ‘God, I wish I was as beautiful as Andrea [McLean] and I was as funny as Coleen; I wish I was as intelligent as Jane Moore or Janet [Street-Porter].’ But I’m never going to be as funny as Coleen because she’s just a unique person and Andrea is just naturally beautiful. We are all different and we can get very feisty, but that’s what real friends are like. At the end of the day, when we go back and have our debrief we have a real laugh. We respect each other and learn from each other.
As you approach 50, how important is your appearance?
Being in the public eye does put pressure on you to look your best and I take looking my best very seriously. Anyone who says, ‘Appearance doesn’t matter’ – I don’t know what planet they’re living on, because it does matter. You have to make an effort for yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to have the best boobs, the best clothes or the best handbag – it just means that you feel good about yourself and you’re being the best, most confident version of yourself.
What are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery?
I have had a cosmetic treatment done – I had my teeth straightened with Invisalign. The reason I had that done is because my gappy teeth were affecting my confidence and self-esteem.
How do you feel after having them done?
I feel fantastic for it. I think the problem is when I see young girls injecting themselves and having boob jobs in their 20s, I feel very sad for them.
But watching a woman who has had children and her breasts are down to the floor and she doesn’t feel sexy any more – I can completely understand.
So I think it depends who is doing it and for what reason. But that is the beauty of cosmetic surgery; it can enhance [all the natural beauty you have] and give you a new lease of life. It’s not all for vanity.
Saira is supporting Operation Smile. Visit operationsmile.org for more details
* Saira’s plans may have changed since COVID-19 precautions